haha i think my explain is very clear aboub what "gao" means in china again, in china, all the cakes, as well as bread, puddings, pies, tarts, including what you mentioned "mochi", all of them no matter baked or steamed, floured or not, they could be all called "gao" therefore, it does make sence that this funny little cake being called "gao" if you do not konw chinese language, please do a research first, then come to tell us, what is "gao" by the way, i dont care where "mochi" come from. there is only one chinese lunar new year in the world, not japanese new year, not hawaii new year, but chinese new year, thats enough! !!!
haha could i say something? i am a chinese, i come from south east coast of china, only in this part of china, the farmers will make "nian gao" after autumn harvest for feting ancestors and celebrating chinese lunar new year. because only in south east of china, farmers plant sweat rice, which is ingredients of making "niangao". i think thats why, in this recipe, this baking stuff called "nian gao", because it uses sweat rice flour for baking. however the fact is, "nian gao" it is from steaming, not baking. i will still thanks to author, it does not matter this cake is "nian gao" or not, the importance is that we never forget our traditional festival and the sweat rice flour will always make you remind your south east hometown. thats enough! by the way, here another linguistics problem i want to clear for auther is, in chinese language, "nian" means "year", "gao" means "cake" but also means "higher,better, richer and all souts of better things ", why? because chinese language is a pictographic characters, you can not tell a word meaning only by its pronounciation. therefor, "nian gao" in chinese language means "a cake which will bring better or higher luck to you in next year", in other words, this carke will give you "a better or higher year" so , i think it makes sense that autor translate "nian gao" into "higer year", it is not a mistake, it is a free or loose translation. but it makes sense.